Andrew Johnson: A Study in Courage

By Lloyd Paul Stryker | Go to book overview

VI
DRUMS

THERE is a novel charm in viewing a familiar scene from some new point of vantage. This is one reason why Lord Charnwood's "Life of Lincoln" is so valuable to us. Viewing him and his times through friendly yet discriminating British eyes, we seem to catch a new vision of the great American. Especially of interest is the English biographer's description of the Republican Convention of May 16th, 1860: "It met at Chicago in circumstances of far less dignity than the Democratic Convention at Charleston. Processions and brass bands, rough fellows collected by Lincoln's managers, rowdies imported from New York by Seward's, filled the streets with noise and the saloon keepers did good business. Yet the actual convention consisted of grave men in an earnest mood."1

Lincoln, although the most obscure of any of the candidates, was nominated on the third ballot. Seward, Chase or almost any of the prominent contenders were thought at first to have a better chance. For the vice-presidential nominee Hannibal Hamlin of Maine was chosen.2 There was a premonition of success among the delegates as they reflected upon the dissension dismaying and dividing the councils of their opponents. The Democratic Convention had met at Charleston, South Carolina, on the twenty- third of the previous month. Its Southern and its Northern delegates were in disagreement as to the platform,--the Dred Scott case, the acquisition of Cuba and the attitude towards Northern legislation (no doubt unconstitutional) intended to nullify the operation of the Federal fugitive slave law in Vermont and other Northern states.3 The Southern delegates were outvoted and most of them withdrew from the convention which thereupon adjourned to meet at Baltimore on June 18th. Before making

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